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20 September 2013

The pimento pepper (aka pimiento pepper) is a small heart shaped sweet pepper with a mild flavor. It is also called the cherry pepper. 

Scoville Heat Units: 100 – 500 SHU

If you’ve ever tried southern pimento cheese, or enjoyed pimento stuffed green olives, you have already tried the pimento pepper in pickled form.

The pimento pepper (often spelled pimiento) is also called the cherry pepper. It measures 3-4 inches long and 2-3 inches side. Pimiento translates to “pepper” from Spanish. See the photo below. It is bright red and shaped like a heart. You might be most familiar with the pimento as the famous pepper used to stuff olives.

Interestingly, both “pimento” from Portuguese and “pimiento” from Spanish derive from the Latin “pigmentum”, which means “pigment”. The word, pimento, became used as a sort of general term for peppers long ago and even more generalized to include black pepper.

Pimento Flavor and Taste

Pimento peppers are not spicy, but rather mild, sweet and succulent. While they are typically pickled, they can also be enjoyed fresh from the garden. Use them as you might use bell peppers, in foods requiring the Cajun Holy Trinity or perhaps a good sofrito recipe.

There are some varieties with heat, including the Santa Fe Grande and Floral Gem varieties.

They are fun for stuffing, as they are good enough in size, and also great for dehydrating and grinding into chili powders.

In fact, the common spice, paprika, is made from dried pimento peppers.

How Hot is the Pimento Pepper?

Pimento peppers are some of the mildest peppers around, measuring only 500 – 1,000 Scoville Units on the Scoville Scale

Compare that with the popular jalapeno pepper, which measures in at 2,500 – 8,000 Scoville Heat Units, the hottest pimento would be about 5 times milder than an average jalapeno.

For heat and flavor comparison, see the Piquillo Pepper, which are different in shape, but similar in many other ways.

Pimento PEPPER SEEDS

If you’re looking for seeds, check out my Chili Pepper Seeds resources page, or you can purchase pimento pepper seeds at Amazon (affiliate link, my friends!).

Enjoy, and happy growing.

When to Pick Pimentos

You can normally find pimentos from late summer through early fall during growing season. Pick them when they are deep, deep red color and very firm to the touch. They can be stored or preserved like any other peppers.

Cooking with Pimentos

As mentioned, pimento peppers are great for stuffing, pickling, drying and daily cooking, but I love them as well for sauces.

Try some of these sauce or dip recipes with your harvest of pimentos.

What’s a Good Pimento Pepper Substitute?

It depends on what you’re using them for. If you’re looking for pickled pimentos and can’t find them, you can use any other pickled pepper that you can find. Pickled red peppers would be ideal, but pickled green peppers are good, too.

Try pickling your own peppers for a quick fix.

For fresh pimentos, bell peppers are probably the easiest to find as a substitute, but any sweeter red pepper variety will do, such as the piquillo pepper, corno di tory pepper, or any Italian sweet pepper.

Mike’s Personal Experience

I’ve grown pimento peppers in our home garden and had no issues. The plants were not fussy and grew easily. They were somewhat productive and I was able to use them in a variety of ways, from general daily cooking to stuffing to drying.

I even used some of them to make Patty a mild “hot” sauce that she used up pretty quickly.

Check out my List of Mild and Sweet Peppers for more options.

If you have any questions or comments, drop me a line anytime, or leave a comment in the comment box below. Happy to help. I appreciate it!

2 comments

  1. Gabriele Calvillo

    This kind of peppers are quite userd in italy…Pickled and stuffed with half anchovy fillet, a green boneless olive and a caper , one inside the other, then put in olive oil, as a relish, and used for Antipasto..

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